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Scott Hollifield: The terrifying return of the hole in the ground
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Scott Hollifield: The terrifying return of the hole in the ground

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In April, I wrote this about a discovery while mowing:

“I was bopping along, cutting down dandelions, clover and the occasional blades of grass that make up a majority of the lawn when I noticed something peculiar near the circular garden spot where we raise tomatoes, peppers and squash for various neighborhood critters to eat before we get a chance to harvest.

“It was a hole in the ground, slightly larger in circumference than a basketball.

“Well, that’s a new one,” I thought.

Those who recall the column will remember the neighborhood debate about whether the hole, which included a brick facing three feet down, was an abandoned drainage system tied to the former cotton mill down the street, a portal to another dimension or the gateway to hell.

Before I could haul out my rappelling gear and explore this cavern, the woman of the house, tired of the constant speculation and media attention, demanded we fill it up with dirt from the garden and forget about it. Still, we both had an uneasy feeling that we had not seen the last of the hole in the ground.

Then commenced the Great Flood of October 2021, as the old-timers now refer to it a month later. Rain fell hard and fast, and it did not stop.

Animals in the neighborhood took to pairing up — two dogs, two groundhogs, 22 sets of feral cats — looking at me like it was my responsibility to fashion an ark out of the shed in case this was a 40-day, 40-night event.

Water pooled on the church-owned ballfield at the end of the street and soon it became a raging river, overwhelming the city’s drains and washing chunks of asphalt and driveway gravel into our yard.

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The rain eventually subsided before I was forced to confess my poor carpentry skills to the animals and advise them it was time to get right with the Lord and practice holding their breath.

As the sun emerged from the storm clouds, I went outside to inspect the damage.

And there it was. The dreaded hole was back. And it was bigger and badder than ever.

All of the hole experts returned to the scene and we renewed our debate on what it was and what could be done about it. Whether it was an old mill drain, a portal to another dimension or the gateway to hell, garden dirt didn’t plug it up enough to repel a downpour of semi-biblical proportions.

Various assembled hole experts scratched their chins and speculated. The general consensus was, “Let me think on it a while.”

In the meantime, Halloween arrived. We wanted to entertain youngsters with a no-contact, virus-free treat-or-treat table on the walk leading up to the house.

The problem was the hole in the yard. We weren’t sure if homeowners insurance covered 8-year-olds falling through the gateway to hell.

We fenced and blocked the hole as best we could and did not put up a sign reading CAUTION: PORTAL TO ANOTHER DIMENSION just in case kids thought it was a Halloween prop and fell in with fun-size Snickers bars.

I kept a close watch from the porch and had my rappelling gear ready in case we needed a hole rescue. Around 50 trick-or-treaters came and went without incident.

After a successful, injury-free Halloween, we were still left with the problem of the hole in the ground.

Hole experts continue to speculate. Some say consult an engineer. Others advise an exorcist. At this point, I am open to about anything. I just hope we get it fixed before mowing season comes around again because that rappelling gear just slows me down.

Scott Hollifield is editor and general manager of The McDowell News in Marion and a humor columnist. Email him at


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